Grocery store customers walk away with plastic baskets they find in supermarkets. This is a clear result of New Jersey’s plastic bag ban, which went into effect this spring.
“They’re just disappearing,” said Louis Scaduto Jr., chief executive of Middletown-based Food Circus Supermarkets, which owns four Super Foodtown stores in Monmouth County. In a message, he wrote, “In fact, we may have to deprecate them soon. We can’t afford to keep replacing them.”
It’s not just a superfood town. Long Branch’s Stop & Shop was missing his basket on a recent visit. Neither did ShopRite in Freehold Township.
“Like other retailers in the state, we have had our own shopping baskets stolen,” Stop & Shop said in a statement. “This is an unintended consequence of the plastic and paper bag ban.” .
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Last May, New Jersey implemented the toughest carry-on bag ban in the country, banning plastic bags of any thickness except those used for fresh vegetables, deli meats and baked goods. Paper bags are also not allowed in supermarkets or other stores with large grocery aisles.
Customers were forced to either bring their own bags into the store or purchase reusable bags at the cash register.
The New Jersey Food Council, a trade group representing the state’s grocers, said customers “most of the time” were prepared for the single-use bag ban and adhered to state-mandated bans. He said that
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Stores were hung with signs urging customers to bring their own bags or purchase other bags. Other signs touched on another issue: plastic hand baskets that customers can carry around the store and collect a few items for checkout.
“Hand baskets must be kept in store at all times,” read a sign at Stop & Shop in Middletown. “thank you very much.”
Some customers have asked me. Others have not.
Linda Dougherty, president and chief executive of the New Jersey Food Council, said in a statement, “We are aware of random reports that grocers are experiencing these hand basket losses to varying degrees. “We see this as a short, unintended consequence of the new state law.”
Some grocers are increasing orders, while others are considering doing away with baskets, Dougherty said.
“Some stores are posting signs urging customers to leave their hand baskets in the store or use the in-store public address system with similar messages,” said Doherty. “I think most of the time people simply forgot to bring them back.”
This is due to baggage bans in other states and municipalities, she said. “It’s not a new trend,” she said.
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ShopRite spokesperson Karen O’Shea said some stores are losing their hand baskets following the single-use bag ban. Some of her ShopRite stores have posted signs asking customers to keep their baskets inside the store.
“We hope that people who use our baskets remember to leave them in the store when they are done shopping so that the basket remains a resource for all of our customers,” said O’Shea.
David P. Willis: [email protected]